The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class

Regular price $ 24.95

by David R. Roediger

Verso Books

7/17/2007, paperback

SKU: 9781844671458


Combining classical Marxism, psychoanalysis, and the new labor history pioneered by E. P. Thompson and Herbert Gutman, David Roediger's widely acclaimed book provides an original study of the formative years of working-class racism in the United States. This, he argues, cannot be explained simply with reference to economic advantage; rather, white working-class racism is underpinned by a complex series of psychological and ideological mechanisms that reinforce racial stereotypes, and thus help to forge the identities of white workers in opposition to Blacks.  

In a new preface, Roediger reflects on the reception, influence, and critical response to The Wages of Whiteness, while Kathleen Cleaver's insightful introduction hails the importance of a work that has become a classic.


"Much has been written about the sources of racism and the wellsprings of racial conflict but few historians have shown David Roediger's sensitivity to the process by which race figured in defining the very nature of American society. The author's most important contribution is to elucidate how racial identity was critical to the formation of the working class during the nineteenth century. Roediger's central argument is most compelling." --Ronald Mendel, Labour History Review

"A real contribution to the study of the dynamic relationship that exists between the variables of race and class. A very engaging and compelling book. Wages of Whiteness will have a broad appeal to students and researchers across a wide array of disciplines." --Lisa Reilly and Cameron McCarthy, European Journal of Intercultural Studies

"At last an American labor historian realizes that white workers have a racial identity that matters as race matters to workers who are not white." --Nell Irwin Painter, Princeton University

About the Author:

David Roediger is Kendrick Babcock Chair of History at the University of Illinois. Among his books are Our Own Time: A History of American Labor and the Working Day (with Philip S. Foner), How Race Survived US History: From Settlement and Slavery to the Obama Phenomenon, and The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class. He is the editor of Fellow Worker: The Life of Fred Thompson, The North and Slavery and Black on White: Black Writers on What It Means to Be White as well as a new edition of Covington Hall's Labor Struggles in the Deep South. His articles have appeared in New Left Review, Against the Current, Radical History Review, History Workshop Journal, The Progressive and Tennis.